Objections from Sport England over the loss of playing fields mean controversial development Tring Heights has been referred to the secretary of state.
After Francis House Prep School suddenly shut in 2014, Mountleigh Development Holdings applied to build 37 homes on the site.
But because the project involves building on playing fields without replacing them, Sport England has objected to the plans.
In addition, all 26 letters received by Dacorum Borough Council (DBC) about the application are objections.
A DBC spokesman said: “The application was considered at the Development Control Committee on November 10.
“Members agreed to delegate with a view to approval but due to objections from Sport England the application has been referred to the secretary of state prior to determination.”
The plans include building 37 homes off Aylesbury Road and ensuring a mix of two and three-bedroom houses across the development.
In a planning statement, developers said they intend to “make best use of this previously-developed land by creating a high-quality residential development that will contribute to meeting the need for new housing in the local area.”
Earlier this year, artists’ impressions of the new homes were branded “barracks” at a Tring Town Council meeting.
And residents of Longfield Road say it will be a “visual intrusion” of their privacy because 10-storey buildings will tower above their gardens.
Michael Hicks, Mayor of Tring, thinks there could be a silver lining if a community infrastructure levy means Tring sports clubs benefit.
He said: “People are never happy with planning applications. But if it means more sport cash comes into the town, it will be good news because a lot of clubs are struggling.”
Mr Hicks added that the land “could be used by the Scouts”.
The school closed in December 2014, under a cloud of controversy. Some parents believe the closure was because the school’s owners wanted to sell the site for development but governors stressed it was due to the school’s “precarious financial position”.
A Sport England spokesman said: “As this objection will now be referred to the secretary of state, we will not be giving any comment at this time.”